How does F. Scott Fitzgerald compare social classes by using language  in The Great Gatsby? What are the differences among the speech of the Wilsons, the Buchanans, and Gatsby? What accents do...

How does F. Scott Fitzgerald compare social classes by using language  in The Great Gatsby? What are the differences among the speech of the Wilsons, the Buchanans, and Gatsby? What accents do they tend to use?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Before America became so mobile and before the population became so diverse, there were areas in the United States in which various nationalities from Western Europe came through Ellis Island as immigrants, then moved, settled, and remained. New York City has boroughs in which certain nationalities settled and a particular vernacular and accent developed from each of these boroughs; consequently, residents could be recognized as residents of a particular borough by their dialects and accents. A possible stereotype of the boroughs in New York's lower East Side is Meyer Wolfschiem, who is based upon the character of Meyer Lansky and others of the Jewish mob. The Wilsons, also, are characters from the East Side, also a lower-class neighborhood. They would probably sound like Archie Bunker of the old sit-com All in the Family, or young John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever. [these can be accessed on youtube.com] 

Tom Buchanan is from Chicago, so he would have the quick, clipped, somewhat nasal/flat a's accent of this area. [e.g. /tap/ for top] Daisy is a Southern girl and would have the soft drawl with open vowels that have an "r" sound after them sometimes. Southerners also use double dipthongs; that is, single syllable words such as yes are often pronounced /yeah ess/. She has an affected speech that shallowly and insincerely employs superlatives, calling others "a rose, an absolute rose" Jay Gatsby is from Minnesota, so he would have a slight nasal tone to many of his words. However, he affects a somewhat British accent, calling Nick and others "old sport."

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